|Race: Miller Lite 400
|Date: June 14, 1998
|Track: Michigan Speedway
|Laps Completed: 199 of 200
|Points Position Before Race/After
|Points Earned: 118
|Money Earned: $38,650
Dale Earnhardt's Sunday afternoon started with a charge. In the first 20 laps, Earnhardt stormed from 43rd to 20th position and looked as though he would make a bid for
the win. Dale moved forward so quickly by driving his car deep into the turns,
placing his left tires along the white line that separates the apron from the racing
surface. On the straight-aways, however, Dale was barely able to keep up with the
competition. He was making up for his poor straightway speed in the turns.
Unfortunately, Earnhardt's momentum would soon die out. Shortly after his
first pit stop, Dale was unable to move forward like he had done at the beginning of the
race. For the remainder of the race, Earnhardt lingered between 15th and 21st
Around lap 83, Dale began a struggle with
Jeff Gordon in an effort to keep himself on the lead lap. After dueling with Gordon
for a couple laps, Earnhardt was eventually put a lap down, where he would stay for the
rest of the race.
Earnhardt was forced race with his backup car after he slammed into the wall in
practice on Saturday following a contact with Rusty Wallace. His primary car was damaged beyond repair in an accident during
"Happy Hour" on Saturday. The backup car that he ran was a car that was
built for tracks like Dover and Bristol. Prior to the green flag, the No. 3 team had
never practiced the backup car at Michigan.
"I feel like the other car (his primary car) would have been a top-10
car," Earnhardt said. "We'll get 'em
next time. All the guys did a good job. They worked hard as a team and did a good job.
Finishing 15th is not that great, but it's better than not racing or not finishing. I
really think our primary car was a top-10 car. The crew worked hard and put that short
track car together and made a speedway car out of it. We were happy with that. We've got a
good car for next week, so we'll have to try to pick it up. We're headed in the right
Richard Childress, who swithched his two teams' crew chiefs on
Monday, was happy with the way his teams handled the change. Dale Earnhardt's crew
chief is now Kevin Hamlin, while Skinner's crew chief is now Larry McReynold's.
"We're pleased with the weekend as a whole, but we're not pleased with the
finishes," Childress said. "It looks like the changes we made have us headed in
the right direction. Both teams communicated well."
Earnhardt is currently 12th in the standings after 14 races this season, 52 points
behind 11th-place Bill Elliott and 74 points behind 10th-place Ken Schrader.
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